by Jay Abdella

With summer in full swing, many people have watched their summer plans dry up. For some, summer camp was their work destination. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many camps were forced to close because of state, federal, and local regulations. My summer camp, which is a day camp in my old hometown, was one of few camps in the area that was able to stay open. Over the last few weeks, it was a whirlwind of running around, improvisation, and a sense of uncertainty regarding what “camp” will look like. To say the least, camp under COVID-19 is a different experience than what it was before.

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(A campfire represents the calming moments of camp. Due to COVID-19, many sleepaway camps were canceled for the summer due to concerns of the virus. Source: Photopin)

Imagine this: a camp experience where campers can’t make contact with counselors or their friends. In addition, you are not allowed to go swimming, to the beach, or on field trips which make camp what it should be. That is the cornerstone of how camp was being operated this year, with the number one goal of keeping campers and staff safe. For counselors, this meant being temperature checked, ensuring that kids were being socially distanced from one another, and jumping into an environment many of us have never experienced before.

For the first week of camp, I got assigned to five kids and my co-counselor got assigned to five different kids. This was what became our group for the week. Our group could not interact with any other groups or any other counselors in the camp. This meant no camp-wide activities, no collaborating with other groups for games, no sharing of materials, and being on our own for games and activities. Even discipline was placed in a grey area. We couldn’t send a misbehaving child to the director’s office as we could in past summers because the head of the camp was not allowed to interact with other campers. While this may seem daunting for many counselors, the small-group style of camp has shown itself to be a good blueprint for creating crucial relationships with campers. 

I was placed with 9 and 10-year-old campers. While I spent the previous summer with 10-year-olds, this would be an entirely new type of experience with working with them. To be completely transparent, I was worried about how to keep them entertained all day long with only myself and my co-counselor. Any fears were assuaged after the first few hours. It turns out that my campers were some of the most go-with-the-flow kids I have ever seen. So far, we have spent hours chilling in a circle talking about regular life, jamming out to tunes while playing four-square, and being run ragged by being outside in blistering heat for eight hours a day. 

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(Despite summer camp being changed through many different regulations, so far, the magic and thrill of seeing campers happy are worth all of the work that was put into making camp happen. Source: Creative Commons, J_villegas)

Despite being required to wear masks almost 100% of the time at camp and being forced to separate from other campers, being a camp counselor during COVID-19 still has the same shine it did when I first started working at this camp. Hopefully, for the next five weeks, we are able to navigate through this tense and tumultuous time of figuring out the next steps on how to keep campers entertained and safe at the same time. The camp is starting to feel like old times despite being in a whole new world.

 

 

by Nicole Mattson

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(A record player plays a tune).

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled or postponed all of the upcoming concerts we all have been looking forward to. If you are stumped on what to listen to next after you have grown tired of repeatedly listening to your playlists, try listening to instrumental music. Most bands from the 1970s are known for their phenomenal chemistry between the singer, guitar, drums, keyboard, and even cowbell. That being said, it can be eccentric to take the singer out of the equation. You can find underlying meanings in how the instruments are played, which can help you understand the bands’ music and dynamic even more than before. Instrumental music gives you, the listener, room to think more creatively and make the song your own: how does the song make you feel? What does it remind you of? The options are endless. In times when it feels like the pandemic will never end, listening to different types of music can help you relax, which is a crucial part of taking care of yourself.

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(A guitar and band setup sits on a stage).

It is also interesting to look through instrumental music since many songs are not well-known. If you are tired of listening to the same Fleetwood Mac album over and over again, try listening to some instrumental versions! You can chill out to all the songs listed below, or you can pick and choose certain songs based on your mood.

If you are feeling strong:

 

  • “Pali Gap” by Jimi Hendrix 

 

Rainbow Bridge, posthumously in 1971

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ7AttIb-kc

“Pali Gap” was released posthumously in Rainbow Bridge in 1971, after Jimi Hendrix’s death the previous year. One of the more powerful songs on this list, how could you resist listening to Hendrix’s moving guitar solo? This song is perfect for both loosening up as well as doing something you enjoy.

If you are feeling groovy:

 

  • “What a Shame” by Fleetwood Mac

 

Future Games, 1971

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DcfbD_NuNo

Fleetwood Mac… there is not much to say about them except that they are one of the grooviest bands of all time. This song was released before Stevie Nicks joined, but it’s still worth listening to since it is instrumental. “What a Shame” is an easy listen, since it will make you feel good about yourself.

If you are feeling bored:

 

  •  “One of These Days” by Pink Floyd

 

Meddle, 1971

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48PJGVf4xqk

You all know the saying, “only boring people get bored”. Sometimes being bored is inevitable, since there are limited options for things to do during the pandemic. “One of These Days” starts off repetitive and a little dull, but escalates into something great. Hopefully, it will put you out of any boredom you may be experiencing.

If you are feeling candid:

 

  • “Do You Know What?” By Sly and the Family Stone

 

There’s a Riot Goin’ On!, 1971

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIuCZhxTBx4

According to Oliver Wang in their article, “Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs” published March 15, 2016, on rollingstone.com, “Greil Marcus famously wrote that There’s a Riot Goin’ On! ‘was no fun. It was slow, hard to hear, and it isn’t celebrating anything.’ In short, ‘It was not groovy.’” So, while you can still chill out to this song, it’s important to note that it was created in a time of change when being honest was more important than ever. If you’re feeling outspoken, you should listen to this “Do You Know What?”, as well as the other songs in There’s a Riot Goin’ On! such as “Family Affair”.

If you need a pick-me-up:

 

  • “Daybreaker” by Electric Light Orchestra

 

On the Third Day, 1973

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaJNjYmpeWY

Electric Light Orchestra’s music is known to put people in a better mood; honestly, who wouldn’t feel better after listening to “Mr. Blue Sky?” Even without lyrics, ELO’s music can still make you feel happier. The addition of the violin in this song is phenomenal and can make you feel some type of way.

If you are feeling nostalgic:

 

  • “Lipstick Traces” by UFO

 

Phenomenon, 1974

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQJgWIaP7UU

The wailing guitar in this song is begging for you to reminisce about your past; perhaps this includes your life before the world shut down. “Lipstick Traces” encourages you to think deeper about yourself and what you’ve been through, and how you can improve your life post-pandemic.

If you are feeling inspired:

  • “Intermezzo No. 1” by Abba

Released in 1975

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6kShipYwCk

Intermezzo No. 1 is one of the more upbeat songs on this list. Like ELO, Abba’s music guarantees it will put a smile on your face. You could cook, paint, or just walk around the house listening to this song.

Bonus song: If you have wanderlust:

 

  • “Bron Yr Aur” by Led Zeppelin

 

Physical Graffiti, 1975 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKge6Ay9O4E

Are you tired of listening to “Stairway to Heaven” over and over again? Put on “Bron Yr Aur” and drive around for a little bit. Even driving is a good way to take a break from things happening in your life, and an excuse to leave your house. This song is nice to listen to on a road trip. Even if you can’t travel anywhere due to the pandemic, going somewhere like a park could be a fun adventure.

by Molly Rosenfeld

I’ll start off by saying I am not much of an athlete, never was, and probably never will be. My lung capacity is below average, I don’t have much in the way of upper body strength, and I’m not particularly flexible.

As a young child, I participated in swimming, ballet, soccer, and gymnastics. It was important to my parents that I got good aerobic exercise at least once a week and that I tried a variety of activities to find a good fit. After I learned how to rollerblade at 10, I wanted to ice skate. I loved it from my very first public session, and my parents signed my sister and me up for group classes.

To my own surprise, skating came relatively easily to me. I have a good balance and have enjoyed learning new elements and choreography. I passed the five recreational levels within a year and began learning jumps and spins. 

In seventh grade, I had other commitments and had to take time off. I started playing recreational volleyball and joined the swim team at my high school, but found that I didn’t really enjoy either one. 

I later took a dance class at school, and “jumped” at the chance to start ice skating again. I signed up for more group classes on weekends and have been going once or twice a week ever since. For the past five years, I have worked with a private coach. When I’m in Southern California with my family, I go to The Rinks-Lakewood ICE. It’s truly become another home for me. I walk through the doors and I know I’ll be around people who care about me, who are people I deeply care about in return. 

Last August, I moved to Northern California to attend San Jose State University. I started up with group classes at Solar4America Ice-San Jose. I don’t feel the same connections and love that I do at Lakewood, but it’s been a nice change of pace.

And then… the pandemic happened.

It’s been difficult taking time off, but I suppose absence does make the heart grow fonder. I’m looking forward to beginning taking the United States Figure Skating sanctioned tests and thus begin competing. Thus far I’ve only taken tests through the Ice Sports Industry and competed on a recreational basis against myself or only one other person in my division.

Ice skating is an expensive pastime, but I’ve found it worth every penny. It’s my favorite outlet, exercise and socialization all rolled into one! I plan on skating for the rest of my life.

I reached out to a couple of coaches I’ve known for years to learn what professionals are currently doing.

Angel Sarkisova started skating when she was 6 years old and has been coaching for about 10 years. She will be transferring to California State University Los Angeles this fall as a communication major.

Q: At what point during your childhood did you realize that you truly enjoyed and had a talent for ice skating?

A: I realized I loved skating almost right away about a week into coming back consistently. I realized I had some natural ability for the sport shortly thereafter and decided to commit myself full-time to try to reach my full competitive potential.

Q: What are your favorite memories from being a coach?

A: I have so many favorite/special memories from being a coach. I really can’t remember specifics anymore, but rather the especially special moments. My favorite memories of coaching come from my everyday conversations, milestones, and accomplishments my kids achieve on a regular, non-special day. In other words, my favorite moments happen every day, while I share some kind of special interaction between one of my skaters and myself.

Q: How do you think coaching and skating will change when we return after the pandemic?

A: After the pandemic, unfortunately, I think things will change in ways that will hurt the progress of skating for a while. It will be hard to correct skaters without being able to physically touch or get close to them. Ice time will be much harder to come by and reserve, and we will have to take extra precautions that will take time away from effective training. However, that being said, whatever gives the people and customers peace of mind and safety is most important. So I’ll take whatever we can get when we all get back on the ice, whenever that is.

Skye Wheeler Koachway received a BA in English Rhetoric and Composition from California State University Long Beach and began coaching during her second year of college.

Q: At what point during your childhood did you realize that you truly enjoyed and had a talent for ice skating?

A: I started skating after a Girl Scout field trip to Paramount Iceland when I was 6, and I think I loved it immediately. For sure, I know that I begged my mom for lessons and she finally signed me up the January after I turned 7. She thought I’d take one session of classes and then be over it but of course I loved it and wanted to continue. I don’t remember not skating and I always thought I was “meant to be” a skater.

Q: What are your favorite memories from being a coach?

A: I have so many favorite coaching moments! I’m trying to think of a favorite and can’t think of just one. I love watching my skaters grow up. Most skaters will not become world champions so I always try to think about how I’d like to help them learn actual “life skills”- hard work, positivity, kindness, and sportsmanship. I’ve also loved working on the synchronized skating teams and the shows; the team comradery is amazing!

Q: How do you think coaching and skating will change when we return after the pandemic?

A: I think we’re going to get back on the ice very slowly, beginning with freestyles. Coaches will need to wear masks and be spaced out along the walls. I think some skaters will quit during this break, but the ones who return will really know they love it.

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(Selfie at the 2019 ISI Winter Classic Competition!)

image4(With Coach Nha-Quyen Nguyen after I passed my Bronze Freestyle test in July of 2018.)

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(With Coach Skye Wheeler Koachway at my first ISI competition.)

image1(The badges I’ve earned for passing the Freestyle 1, Ice Dance 1, and Freestyle Bronze Tests.)

 

 

by Abbey Ross

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(A girl looks at her phone with a sense of fear)

If you are a technology user living in 2020, you have undoubtedly seen tremendous amounts of troubling and stressful news stories during the past few months. Television channels are clogged with their usual politics, crime, and celebrity news, but now an entirely new topic has crammed its way into the already overwhelming news cycle. Yes, you guessed it: COVID-19.  As if turning on the news wasn’t stressful enough, we now have more portable—and more intrusive—forms of technology that ding and beep at us as soon as the death toll rises, a gaggle of gun-wielding protesters emerges, or a politician makes a statement on Twitter. 

If you are like most people, including myself, who feel like they’re drowning in a river of events and notifications, you’re probably looking for a way to get some air, to escape the never-ending rapids. How are you supposed to do this, though, when we live in such a quickly evolving world where it seems like every hour brings another devastating wave of events? 

For some people, the solution is to just turn it all off. They take their phones and hide them in another room, silence notifications, and escape into the world of Netflix or a good novel. In all my efforts to do this, however, I’ve felt suddenly and alarmingly disconnected. What if my sister calls or my friends need my advice? What if my boss emails me or a vaccine is found today and I miss it? I have listed some things that I have done when I just need to step back and take a break. They help me feel more grounded and less anxious while allowing me to maintain a healthier level of connectedness.

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(Being in front of a laptop can cause you undue stress)

Listen to Your Brain and Body—feelings of anxiousness can manifest in many different ways.

Be kind to yourself and be open to the sometimes subtle signs that your mind and body are overwhelmed. These can include anything from changes in appetite and sleep patterns to sudden tiredness, loss of motivation, loss of memory, and other mental and physical symptoms. For example, back in March at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I convinced myself I was sick because of tightness and pain in my chest. After a week or so, though, I noticed that I only felt these symptoms while reading or watching the news.

Communicate—tell your loved ones what you’re doing and why.

When you start to feel overwhelmed by being tethered to your phone or computer—whether by news alerts or lengthy debates in a group chat—don’t be afraid to let your loved ones know how you’re feeling. A simple text explaining where your head is at and that you will be stepping away for a little while should suffice. Your friends and family have surely been dealing with similar concerns lately and will likely support your choice to take a break.

Example: Hey guys, I hope you all are having a good day. I am a little overwhelmed with what we’ve been chatting about/the state of the world right now/my notifications, so I’m going to put my phone away for a bit and do something else. I’ll talk to you later.

Set Up an Alternative—find a less intrusive method of communication where someone can reach you if they really need to.

 If you are concerned about being completely disconnected from your phone (a very reasonable concern in this day and age), include in your message that someone can reach you if something urgent comes up. If you’re living at home right now like me, giving your friends, coworkers, or family members your home landline phone number is a great alternative.

Make it a Habit – set aside some no-phone time on a scheduled basis.

 By doing this, your contacts will be aware of what you’re up to every day from 3-5 pm, for example. They will know not to worry if you don’t answer right away, giving you some peace of mind to escape and relax.

 

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(Exercising is a great way to retreat from technology)

Use Your Free Time Wisely – once you have identified feelings of anxiousness and established some time away from the noise, make sure you really appreciate the silence.

Now that you have created some space for yourself to retreat from the endless stream of news and notifications, make sure you allow yourself to fully occupy this space! No sneaking looks at your phone or flipping on the news (even if it’s just for five minutes)! Do something that makes you feel calm and centered; for tips on mindfulness, exercise, yoga, and new activities during quarantine, check out these other BTP articles: 

Quarantine Activity: Learning a New Language

   Stretching it Out: Keeping Connected Through Yoga

   Staying Fit During a Pandemic

   Rediscovering Reading During Quarantine

   Meditating in a Time of Crisis: A “How-To” Guide in Clearing the Mind

 

 

 

When good friends Arya Rao and Kanav Kalucha were sent home early from Columbia University as a result of COVID-19, the computer science students knew they weren’t done putting their education to use quite yet. From their homes in Michigan and California, respectively, Rao and Kalucha noticed that many citizens in their hometowns – particularly the elderly – were already making masks to donate to frontline workers. With technology at their side, the two realized they had the skills to speed up the donation process, and just like that, the Mask Up initiative was born.

 

Co-founders Arya Rao and Kanav Kanucha

             What started as a two-person effort has now amassed over 100 volunteers to make and deliver masks to frontline workers. “There are a lot of organizations that have PPE shortages,” explains Rao, “and while this isn’t a substitute for that, we can reduce the risk for some of the people who are fighting this pandemic.” 

            Becoming a volunteer is simple. Go to the Mask Up website and enter your location, and how many masks you will be able to make. You will then be matched to the nearest healthcare organization. Additionally, essential services and organizations can request donations through the website as well. Since its inception, Mask Up has been able to provide masks to the New York National Guard, the Public Transit Unit of the North-Eastern United States, and dozens of hospitals and care homes. 

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Some of the masks that have been made and donated by volunteers. 

            Initially, it was a struggle to leverage the technological aspect. While younger generations are no strangers to social media, the majority of Mask Up volunteers are the elderly, who are less familiar with the world of technology. Rao quickly realized that while Facebook, Instagram, and a website would reach a younger demographic, the best way to spread the word is through good old-fashioned newspapers, and other local media outlets. “Lots of cold-emailing and cold-calling,” Rao recalls with a chuckle. 

            The Mask Up initiative will continue for as long as necessary. Until then, Rao explains that their only goal is “to continue to service the needs of the nation.”

            “This pandemic is really throwing all of us for a loop right now and I think the first thing we want to do is provide a little good and a little light in the world.”

 

by Eleanor Kelman

When I first received news that my campus would be shutting down and classes would move to remote instruction due to COVID-19, my initial fear wasn’t directed at how I personally would adapt to the change; rather, I worried how my dad would fare. I had been living at my university in Boston, which quickly became one of the hot zones of the virus; however, once it became apparent that I would need to leave the bubble of my university housing, I only worried about the possibility of catching the virus. Though it does seem a bit shortsighted in hindsight, I truly believed I would be absolutely safe from catching the virus. At the time, the news was reporting that younger and otherwise healthy people would simply catch the equivalence of the common cold and recover without issue; therefore, I shrugged off the prospect of becoming gravely ill in the event I would become infected. However, once I realized I would need to head back home, I began to panic.

Like many others, despite not being in the at-risk group for COVID-19, I have family members who are. I’m living with my family at home, and my dad is immunocompromised. Even simply coming home from school made me nervous. Parties were thrown every night, and since I lived in a popular upperclassmen-only area of campus, these parties occurred directly outside my front door. I was at the crossroads of wanting to enjoy the final days of my college experience and not wanting to put myself, and subsequently my dad, at risk. I even considered trying to remain on campus or staying with my boyfriend’s family to avoid any chance of passing on the virus. Neither option would prove particularly feasible, and on top of that, my parents wanted me to come home so I could maintain a sense of normalcy.

My family is doing its best to act like we have the freedom to move around, but our need to be hypervigilant reigns supreme. My parents go shopping once every two weeks when the supermarkets open in the morning. We wear masks every time we leave the house to go on walks around the neighborhood. I’ve been keeping connected with friends via messages and video calls. At first, I found this to be a suitable substitute for actually living on campus close to my friends at all times, but lately, I’ve been feeling more and more antsy and fidgety. I have felt completely lost within my own thoughts for what seems like hours every day. The one time I got some reprieve when I drove to stay at my boyfriend’s house for a few days, I never left the car until I was at his house and reinstated my entire quarantine routine while there. When I returned home, I quarantined inside my bedroom for a week (with my parents placing food outside my door that I ordered by calling our home phone). My parents will crack the occasional joke about paranoia, but we understand that it’s something we all have to do in order to keep my dad safe.

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[Each of us has our own personal mask in my family. I got the groutfit one.]

It’s been difficult, to say the least. When I see friends posting on social media about going grocery shopping, I feel a pang of jealousy — my parents don’t allow my siblings and me to go to the store with them. I got plenty of messages like “Oh, that’s stupid!” when I documented my in-room quarantine to my Snapchat streaks, but it wasn’t stupid in my household. Sometimes I want to hop into my car and drive to the local hiking trail or shopping center just to get out of my head for a while, but I know that I shouldn’t. Maintaining safe quarantine practices isn’t all that essential for me, but it could be literally lifesaving for my family. I still can’t help those feelings of lamenting having to be so tightly-wound from sneaking in, though, no matter how much I know they are selfish. 

Whenever I get caught up in jealousy and a weird new-age type of FOMO I thought I had left behind at college, I find people in similar situations to mine. One of my best friends from childhood is severely immunocompromised and, for months, found themselves unable to leave the house just to take a walk. Many of my friends live with elderly family members and have been more worried than myself. Some people I know have even caught the virus themselves, know people who have caught it, or have come in contact with someone who caught it. I also know some people who are in the exact same boat I am with an immunocompromised member of the family.

In all honesty, it’s been a tough time for everyone. That being said, hearing how I’m not alone in my fears has made it a lot easier to handle. If I need to, I can call up a friend who understands my frustrations perfectly and just vent for an hour without feeling guilty. My support network has truly strengthened during quarantine, which was something I was not at all expecting when I said my “final” goodbyes to my friends before beginning the long drive from Boston. My friends and family have been there for me in a way I’m eternally grateful for, especially given that this has really challenged how close we are!
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[My beloved Google Calendar even has some standing friendship dates!]

Whereas remote learning was, pretty objectively, absolutely terrible, remote socialization has been lovely. People who I hadn’t seen in a while and had accidentally fallen off my radar (sorry!) due to my hectic pre-COVID day-to-day life have become my close friends again. I’ve been more inspired to reach out and initiate conversations, something I have always struggled with, due to the fact that there are no longer any real ramifications. After all, who is going to be too busy to video call? We’re all stuck here with too much time on our hands! And no one has lamented me being more active on social media; in fact, I’ve started commenting on posts of people I haven’t seen since high school who have found themselves elated to reinvigorate our friendships. Navigating and mastering social media to stay happy definitely had a bit of a learning curve for me at the start, but it’s allowed me to focus my energy on the people I really care about and fully nurture those friendships.

This isn’t to say that everything has been rainbows and sparkly unicorns and I love having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay home and relax. I’ve been terrified to leave my house, but I am equally afraid of the ramifications that come with staying inside. I miss my friends dearly and wish I could say I am too busy rather than too bored. That being said, the resilience I’ve seen in everyone, including myself in a way I don’t feel uncomfortable bragging about, has been inspiring. Quarantine has had its fair share of negative side effects, but I think it has presented a feeling of “we’re all in this together” that I have never felt before. When I chat with my friends for the umpteenth time about my problems and see them listen intently, it makes everything feel just a little bit better.

By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

By Catherine Duffy

Two-thousand-nine-hundred-fifty-eight kilometers, the distance between Regina, Saskatchewan and Moncton, New Brunswick. That’s how many kilometers stretch between my mom and I during this time of crisis. I didn’t think the distance would bother me. I’ve lived on my own for almost four years now since I started college, only staying at home for a few weeks during the summer and at Christmas. However, I’ve found myself envying those going through the pandemic with their families…as crazy as it might be making them!

I’ve always kept in touch with my mom with daily texts and FaceTime calls a few times a week, but there’s something about a global pandemic that makes me wish she was here with me. It would be comforting. With such a threatening disease to the older population, I wonder if I am missing out on last moments with her. She is in her 60s, and to someone like her, the risks this disease imposes are just that much higher.

I also miss my furry friend and can’t relate to those improving their bonds with their pets with this extra time at home. The life of a cat is already painfully short and I can’t help but feel that I am missing out on precious time.

My mom and I, Mother’s Day 2018.

I look back regretfully on the month of March wondering if I had missed my chance to make it home to my mom and my cat. I had a flight booked for the end of April but as COVID-19 became rapidly worse, I soon got an email that my flight had been cancelled. The day we found out classes would be held online for the rest of the semester, one of my friends reminded me that this was a chance to reunite with my mom. I guiltily admit that I hadn’t even thought of that opportunity. Somewhere deep down I still thought all this would soon be over and I worried I’d be too far away from my university when things restarted. I also knew that my family home was filled with distractions and wondered how much work I’d be able to complete in the environment.

I would have only had a few days to pack up everything I had gathered during these last four years of school if I had chosen to go back to New Brunswick. The thought of a panic-filled packing session caused stress to race through my veins and in the moment, I just wanted to stay put. So much was still undetermined and I relied on the news to give me the updates I needed.

Flights being cancelled wouldn’t necessarily be the reason I’d have to stay in Saskatchewan. I soon decided that I would drive, aiming for the end of March when we’d get confirmation that our final exams would be online. Strangely enough, not flying home would almost be a good thing. I’d get to drive across the country, something that had always been on my bucket list, and I’d be able to pack more of my belongings than the airport’s strict suitcase policies would allow.

Again, things changed quickly on a day-to-day basis. By time I had made my mind up to drive, it was no longer an option. Both the United States border as well as those in the province of Quebec had been closed. There was no other way to New Brunswick. Though “essential trips” would be allowed, I had nothing to prove that I had New Brunswick residency, having changed my license when I moved away from my parents for school. 

The border closures made it official: I was stuck in Saskatchewan. Luckily, my landlord was understanding and reassured me that I could stay as long as I needed. Again, I wasn’t totally disappointed. This was my home after all, and finally, it seemed like my questions had been answered: I knew where I’d be staying for a least a couple months. It’s hard to ever really know your future plans with how fast the situation is changing, but I had finally formed a temporary plan. I looked forward to the football games and concerts I’d be able to attend with my friends, finally spending summer in Saskatchewan for the first time in four years. Naïve little me did not realize that such large gatherings didn’t stand a chance with the pandemic.

I know that many people have been separated from their loved ones in this time due to the new social distancing regulations. However, I believe there would be something comforting in knowing that your parents are still in the same city as you. Perhaps you’d head to their house for a conversation through the window like those feel-good Internet videos show.

Moms are so important. They’re the ones who make us realize that everything will be okay when we’re still young and frightened about the unknown world around us. From bellyaches, to thunderstorms to losing a balloon, Mom is always there to hold us and to reassure us that everything will be alright. So, as the world has stopped and has been filled with fear and uncertainty, yes, my twenty-two year-old-self needs her mom.

My mom and I enjoying a visit together.

Next time I’m with my mom, I won’t take my time with her for granted. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder and I’ve seen a lot of truth to that since being separated from her at the beginning of my post-secondary career. Though you may have plans to see someone, you never know how they might fall through. When survival is threatened, whether on a big-scale for the vulnerable population or a lower-scale for those in good health, it’s comforting to be able to run to your mom for a hug. I can’t wait to see her again.

With the rise of COVID-19 over the past few months, ‘free time’ has become less of a rare occurrence. Many people have been laid off from their jobs or required to work from home, students have switched to online classes, and social events and gatherings have disappeared. With all of these changes, many people, including myself, have found that they now have more time on their hands to devote to their hobbies and other activities that would usually be pushed to the side. However, with this added amount of ‘free time’ comes a nagging pressure to be productive and to make use of the ‘free time’ that we now have available.

When scouring social media, I often see posts about how quarantine has provided people with the opportunity to write the book they’ve always dreamed of, to take an abundance of spring and summer classes, or to start a business. Even after studying all day, I still hear this voice in my head telling me that I shouldn’t spend the evening relaxing. Instead, I should be putting this time to good use and be productive. While these ideas of ambition and constant productivity can be lovely, they are not required. This is not to say that a person cannot aim to be productive or achieve goals during this time, because I am fully guilty of that. It is just to say that there should not be such high pressure to do so. Using this time in quarantine to better yourself or to achieve any number of things is great, however, you are not a failure if you choose to spend your time relaxing, binge-watching Netflix, or taking a lot of naps.

The truth is there is no right way to spend your time during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty and can be a source of stress for many people. Mental health is an area that many individuals struggle with and a pandemic, coupled with isolation, can cause people to spiral into a depression. As such, reinforcing the idea that people must be productive or else they have failed or ‘wasted their time’ in quarantine can be dangerous, harmful, and unhelpful, especially to people who are struggling with their mental health. A pandemic is a scary time and people are allowed to use their time as they see fit.

I can definitely understand the appeal for productivity in a time such as this. Many individuals attend school full-time or work a 40 hour/week job, which results in little time for projects, creativity, and goals outside of work or school. However, while many people may not have time for such endeavors in their normal lives, they may also not have time for relaxing and enjoying a time with fewer obligations. There is no shame in using this time to just hang out and exist. Your time does not need to be constantly used for production. Productivity can be great, it can be rewarding, and it can be a great cure for boredom, so long as you keep in mind that you are not a failure for relaxing and focusing on yourself as much as you need. 

Photo Credit: 

trendingtopics <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/146269332@N03/49119584972″>#productivity (Trending Twitter Topics from 25.11.2019)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/“>(license)</a>

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by Andy Chau

It seems that as the “yellow peril” strikes again and now, the Asian-American community has reverted back to the early days of racism and discrimination. Ever since the announcement of COVID-19 arriving in the United States, hate crimes average 100 per day with “at least 1,000 hate crimes incidents being reported against Asian-Americans” according to Democratic Californian Representative Judy Chu. Additionally, I don’t necessarily find it pleasing to hear our president using provocative language that incites opportunities to assault Asian-Americans when we have no direct relationship with the origin of the virus. I don’t understand and maybe I never will because ignorance itself is like a powerful religion. 

On one spectrum we are the “model minority.” We are perceived as great American citizens who work hard, remain within the law, don’t complain about anything, and produce a cohort of offsprings with academic and career success. Then there is the perpetual foreigner perception that we “brought” diseases such as SARS and COVID-19 and/or that we steal jobs, are communists, etc. As idiotic as this sounds, I don’t believe I have encountered a marginalized group that is versatile with being praised and demonized by the public opinion. Yet, it seems as if that isn’t enough for people to stop instilling their anger and frustrations towards innocent groups of people. Is it so hard for those people to realize that we are all fighting the same enemy together? Why are we repeating history when we should be progressing from it? 

On a daily basis, I often worry about not only my safety but my parents’ safety. Knowing that they are amongst the older group of first-generation immigrants, any abrupt health concerns can dramatically worsen their matters. Especially when the pandemic fades, I still have this eerie feeling that gaslighting will continue to traumatize our already tense community. If this is the reality that I and many others will live through, I sure do not want the future generation to experience anything similar to what we are enduring. 

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(the American flag)

Growing up as a multi-ethnic individual, I always thought the “American Dream” would be fulfilled through all the stereotypical characteristics of what a “good Asian” comprises. Growing up, I mesmerized about how I was born in a nation that was free of racism and discrimination and that I can live a life full of role models who look, act, talk, and relate to me. Growing up, I assumed that the “land of the free” was the greatest country ever until I swallowed the red pill. The truth hurts and as a Chinese Vietnamese-American, the truth has forced me to question the society I live in. 

As pessimistic and cynical as I internally feel, I have accepted the fact that this is only the beginning. It’s a new beginning for us, where Asian-Americans both young and old must unite against the persistent existence of racism. This is the time to educate ourselves and hone our communication skills for the necessity of broadcasting ideas of progress. Once COVID-19 is eradicated, it is vital we plan and carry out events, assemblies, rallies, and conferences that enhance the empowerment of marginalized groups. With the enormous losses being shown in glimpses around the globe, I believe that we still have the capabilities to get through this; everything, especially this pandemic, takes major patience and commitment. While life is inevitably cruel and unfair, I think that as each day passes, I know there will be change. As Kobe Bean Bryant (1975-2020) once said, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise” and for us, this new beginning as dark as it is is our opportunity to rise and never look back.